TapasLife Talk — An Invitation

My goal here on TapasLife is to get the word out about the possibility of leading a rich, full,  and meaningful life after one’s long career — especially given the longevity that is giving many 2-3 decades of life after their long career.

This blog is one vehicle for communicating my message.  Through the 54 posts on this website, I’ve shared much of what I’ve learned while assembling and living my TapasLife.  As a result, you’ve likely noticed that I’ve lately been posting infrequently.  I’m grateful to any reader who passes a link to this blog along to others in their 50s and 60s who might benefit from reading about my experiences and gleanings.

In addition to this blog, the book that I’m working on with my co-author will (hopefully) one day be published and made widely available so many can consider a new post-long-career life that has been largely unavailable until now.

A third channel I’ve worked on for exposing people to the TapasLife option is talks.  I’ve done three of these, each for a different group of people at different venues.  I got feedback at all three and incorporated that feedback into the talk.  After the first presentation, I got the feedback that I should add other people’s experiences to my own.  so I included anecdotes from the 14 interviews done to date.  I also received feedback that there should be some interactive portions to the talk, and added a couple.  After the third talk, I received feedback that sharing my “random walk” approach in a chronological fashion wasn’t so easy to absorb, and that perhaps a more prescriptive, cookbook-like approach (apropos of Tapas…) would be better.  And that I might emphasize some portions of the talk more than others.  So I changed the talk accordingly.  And I added another couple interactive sections since these have been so well received.

At this point, the talk is about an hour.  It is a set of colorful, pictorial powerpoint slides (not a bunch of bullet-points/words/texty stuff), prettified with the help of a visuals specialist;  and includes four opportunities for the audience to have exploratory conversations in pairs amongst themselves (these have proven to be very high energy — and in fact are difficult to cut off!).  It happens that in my 28 years in the tech world, mostly in marketing, I got passingly good at talking in front of groups of all sizes (including 600+ at large meetings), and am very comfortable doing so.

I’m all dressed up, so to speak, and all that’s needed is somewhere to go!  THIS IS AN INVITATION to please invite me to speak with some group you are associated with that you believe would benefit from learning about the TapasLife.  I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and am happy to drive anywhere in the extended area in order to talk with your group.  I do not charge a speaker fee at all because this is part of my Meaningful Tapa — I’m just trying to be helpful to others as they complete their long career.  I am willing to travel outside the Bay Area if modest travel expenses are reimbursed.

Groups might include service organizations, church/temple/mosque-related groups, work groups, companies who offer services to their employees who are “retiring,” community organizations, groups of friends, businesses that serve people in their 50s and 60s (as a service to their clientele), and no doubt many others.

When you bring me in to talk with your group, you are helping people avoid the difficult wall that many run into when they complete their long career one Friday afternoon and have very little idea about the complex transition on which they’ve embarked.  And likely even less of a notion about how to live a rich, full, meaningful life for the ensuing 20-30 years.

Your assistance in putting me in front of groups who can benefit is greatly appreciated.  I can be emailed at Andy@TapasLife.com.  Thanks!

Courage

You’ve announced that you’re ending your long career.  Coworkers deluge you with “What are you going to be doing?”  When you see friends, they’ll all want to know “What are you going to be doing?”  When you go to gatherings, cocktail parties, reunions, just about anyplace — people want to know your plans.  And before you answer, they’ll have it in their head that you’re going to travel, play golf/tennis, and do some volunteerism.

It’s the model that people are familiar with and expect you to fit nicely into it.  Well, if you’re a really, really driven type, they’ll want to know if you’re going to start another career, if you’re going to do some consulting, if you’re going to join some Boards.

If you choose to relax and decompress (and, yes, travel some) for a while, that won’t surprise anyone and will totally meet their expectations of life after a long career.

If by and by you decide to ease gradually into a Tapas Life, that will break the mold that’s in most people’s head.  Huh?  You’re not just traveling and playing golf?  You haven’t started a new job?  This can be an uncomfortable time, in that you are stepping away from the age-old model of how life is expected to be lived.  Everywhere you go, whoever you see will want to know what’s new, what you’re up to now.  If after 3-6 months you don’t have much of an answer, people will either say “Oh” (as in, gee, he’s lost) or will prod you for some sort of plan.

Moreover, you yourself may find you are itching to get started on something.  After all, you’ve spent 17+ years of your life being educated and then 30-40+ years in your long career(s).  After all this doing, it’s really alien to not be doing.  It’s awkward.  It’s not what your or others are looking for in the you they know.  It’s quite challenging to simply stay with regrouping, introspecting, considering what you actually want from the coming decades.

The most vibrant you may be submerged under the work persona you’ve inhabited for decades, and it is likely to take time and intent to find that truest you.  To be sure, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones whose work was their heart’s desire, what used their fullest capabilities to meaningful effect.  In which case, you may not have ended your long career at all (since that sort of idyllic life can be hard to replace)!  Sad to say, though, most of us weren’t living ourselves all that fully during our long career — or not during the work portion, or at least not during the last 10+ years of the work portion.  I know I personally was bored during the last 7+ years of my long career — and mine was only 28 years, less than most.

Yes, it takes time and intent to rediscover ourselves, while everyone incessantly pokes at us “What are you up to?”  And after rediscovering ourselves, it’s a gradual process to assemble a Tapas Life, starting in on something we love, and then adding Tapas over a period of months and years (mine took about 4.5 years to assemble), keeping some Tapas, discarding some, failing miserably at some.

It takes courage and perseverance to head down the new path of a Tapas Life, enduring other’s expectations that will remain unmet.  The closer the relationship, the harder it is to, in essence, make your friends and family feel that something’s wrong — simply because you’re not fitting into the model that’s in their head.  At the same time, look for those who believe in you and are willing to support you in a flexible way, willing to understand that it’s OK to walk a less common path.  They will be an excellent energy source and sounding boards and perhaps partners on your journey to the Tapas Life.

If you like to buck trends, are an iconoclast, stand up to the powers that be, or are otherwise a nonconformist, you’ll have an easier time of it, for sure.  If all that sort of behavior is foreign to you, and the Tapas Life appeals to you greatly, you’ll need some courage.

It’s worth swimming against the tide to enjoy a rich, fulfilling, meaningful Tapas Life during your second adult life!

 

Please introduce this blog to others you know a who are late in their long career or who have left their long career in the last few years.  You’re likely to be helping them greatly.  Thanks!

Transition

In earlier posts, I’ve talked about modifying one’s way of being that worked well during one’s long career (Competitiveness) and I’ve talked about finding a meaningful Tapa (Meaningful Tapa Emerges).  What we really have here, on a fuller scale, is an ending and a beginning.

It’s worth taking good note of this fact, since we’re often not so good at endings, and that can make finding new beginnings harder.

In his book, Transitions:  Making Sense of Life’s Changes, William Bridges writes about the process of ending something and starting something else.  When something important ends, for our purposes one’s long career, Bridges points out that denial, shock, anger, frustration/stress, and ambivalence are likely to ensue.  After all, one has just ended a fairly consuming activity that ran for perhaps 30-40 years!  And one might just have a scary amount of their identity tied up in the long career that was.  In a sense, this is almost like death — although fortunately just the death of a part of our lives, viewed from a useful perspective.  It’s far from game over.  So the ending needs to be celebrated, observed, felt, explored, inhabited, honored, mourned, and in other ways processed fully:  the retirement party will simply not suffice.  So talk about it, write your thoughts and feelings, paint about it, get drunk and cry about it, share your pain and confusion (or joy and delight, or all of the above) with others early and often.  Have a ceremony and bury your company ID card.  Do what it takes to move through the steps that Bridges lists above.

And this will help you arrive at what he calls The Neutral Zone.  Now you’re not in your long career anymore, but neither have you got a complete new life assembled.  This can be a place that feels unglued, where decades of attachment and structure no longer exist, a place of untetheredness.  And it can be a place where emerging freedom and possibility can be experienced.  One must live in the Neutral Zone for enough time to have new beginnings start to poke their nose out into the open.  How long?  Who knows.  I’ve blogged about it taking me 18 months after leaving my long career before I took on the new opportunity of piano lessons.  This must be different for everybody.  And yet, the Neutral Zone must be traversed, for if one doesn’t allow their Ending to be processed and a time of gathering and regrouping to take place, the possibility of a sustainable new Beginning is diminished.

As new beginnings start to form up in our mind, Bridges continues, we meet them with skepticism:  “I’ll never be any good at that.”  “They’ll never want me.”  “It’ll never work.”  Etc., etc., etc.  This may defeat and relegate to the junkyard a number of potential paths or Tapas, or merely delay them to another time.  Eventually something will emerge that you can accept as within your imaginable grasp/reach/energy.  And you’ll be able to ascribe some importance to it without becoming too fearful of it being unobtainable.  This will lead to hope and then enthusiasm and then you’ll be off and running with a new career, if that’s where you’re headed, or with a Tapa to start or add to your collection.  And you will have run the course of Bridges’ Transition model.

Quite a process, eh?  If you’re mindful of it, that will help you travel the path a bit more easily, and perhaps with more awareness of what’s going on.  He notes that Change is Fast (your long career slammed shut one Friday afternoon) and Transition is Slow (takes a while to work through the Ending, dwell in the Neutral Zone, and gradually gather energy to embark on a New Beginning).

Another key takeaway at this juncture is that the first half of your adult life (and even your childhood/adolescence before that) is taken up with proving your competence here on Planet Earth.  The second half, the half after your long career, is taken up with finding meaning in your journey from dust to dust.  Thus my reference to the Competitiveness and Meaningful Tapa Emerges posts.

Safe travels on your journey!

 

Why the “Tapas Life” After Retirement?

My career was in high tech, mostly as a marketing exec, and also as a general manager.  More specifically, I was in the micro-chip industry, working for several-hundred-million-dollar companies.  This was not a 40-hour work week — more like 50-55, and some worked more than that.

Also, I was (and still am) happily married with a couple of kids.  So, when the kids were small and I got home from work, I got the kids and my wife, Carole, got a break.  The kids and I would play until dinnertime, and after dinner I’d give them their bath and read to them and tuck them in bed.  And then Carole and I had our time together.  And I read the mail and paid the bills and managed finances and so on.  On the weekends, we did kid-related stuff, mostly — sports, birthday parties, family get-togethers, etc.  And we always had a date on Friday or Saturday night, our opportunity to be a couple.

As you may notice, there was no time in here for me.  So I describe these years of my life as a 64-ounce Porterhouse steak, hanging over the edges of the dinner plate, crowding everything else out.

When life circumstances (more on that in a future post) provided me time to start to explore  other aspects of life beyond work and family, I had no idea what to do with the found time and, by and by, there was lots of it.

Through a somewhat guided, somewhat random walk, I found that I had cobbled together a nice assortment of things that I enjoy doing.  One day when asked what I was up to, I said “I’m living my Tapas Life.”  The concept just appeared in my head, fully baked.  My life was no longer the enormous Porterhouse, now it was some of this and some of that — it had become the Tapas Life.

I gradually came to realize what I wrote about in the first post to this blog:  that I might well have another 25 years to live.  Building on the base of Tapas that I had already put in place, the notion crystalized of durable Tapas that would last decades.  Those, too, would eventually come together.

I really, really like the varied Tapas Life I live now — way, way better than the old Porterhouse.  I suppose the Porterhouse had its utility, but I’d have rather found the Tapas Life sooner.  It is so much richer and more interesting and more energizing.  I get to be myself much more fully, live more parts of me, experience so much more of the world around me.  And that’s why the Tapas Life — which you can choose, too!